Keep it Positive

Expectation is the Thief of Joy

Many of you may read the title of my post and think – “did Nashville’s January snowpocalypses get to this chick? … she knows the saying is, ‘comparison is the thief of joy,’ right?!” Yes, I know the saying. No comment on the Nashville tundra; it’s a sensitive subject for us constantly cold people – real life photo of me braving it to the gym this month in not enough coats:

when your bitmoji is too close to a self portrait

Maybe the freezing outdoors have had me feeling a little introspective and contemplative – it’s hard to stay out of your head when you’re trapped in your apartment (to a degree; I did venture out for muffins, spin classes and as many in-office work days as were absolutely necessary #priorities).

During one of my out-of-apartment experiences last weekend, I ventured to lunch with some gal pals and we engaged in a poignant conversation that has been on my mind and begged deeper exploration – we were talking about how social media in our modern age has thrown a curve ball at authenticity and turned life milestones and relationships into status updates and profile pictures one flaunts as opposed to special moments and partnerships one nurtures and treasures. We have evolved into a “show me” culture with everyone trying to one-up each other with how utterly fantastic their lives look. So I got to thinking about the infamous quote: “comparison is the thief of joy”…

Comparison is most certainly a silent thief – it slowly, stealthily undermines the spirit, chipping away at self confidence and one’s personal truths. However, the act of comparing is not in and of itself the perpetrator; rather, it is an accomplice, a stage-setter. You see, once one’s self confidence begins to falter and one’s unique set of values and truths once held self-evident are called into question, that’s where the real theft of joy occurs. It comes in the moment where comparison becomes expectation; where looking to one another becomes looking at one another, drawing likeness to then pinpoint fractional differences and variances. Comparison is absolutely an act of negativity (and an act one might argue we have been conditioned by society to perpetrate, with models and actors in the limelight serving as “role models” and aspirational figures) – but the root evil lies in the false, disillusioned expectation it breeds.

You see, in the act of comparing, we become anchored in this derailed state where we are “not _____ enough,” and it relentlessly weighs on our self confidence and mindset. It is through this complex self narrative that we can oftentimes find ourselves pulling the trigger from admiration to envy or inspiration to idolization (and unhealthily so).

Breaking down comparison in this way, and seeing it as cloaked expectation, was powerful for me. I myself have fallen into the habit of following bloggers and influencers and trying to view my life through the lens of their accomplishments as a way of tracking my own progress, my own relationships, my own worth. It is a dangerous, unfulfilling mind trap and I think aggressive transparency and awareness is necessary to ward off its consequences.

This weekend, I started reciting daily personal mantras and assertions as part of my morning routine, and I have found them particularly helpful in grounding me and allowing me to start my day with fresh eyes and an open heart. I am intervening on behalf of my own tendencies and behaviors to ensure that I prioritize the practice of empowerment, forgiveness and self confidence.

I challenge you all to choose action, grant yourself grace, and use the momentum of self awareness to power through thoughts of comparison or expectation this week.

In the wise words of Epictetus: “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”


1 thought on “Expectation is the Thief of Joy”

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